On FEBRUARY 9TH, 2021, the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University will host its annual symposium on Filmmaking and Public Policy with a focus on education reform. The event will begin with a 2:30-3:30 panel on Filmmaking and Storytelling, followed by a screening of Miss Virginia, and concluded with a 6:30-8:00pm panel on Public Policy and School Choice. If you are interested in attending and furthering your professional profile, click here! To navigate these discussions, we are lucky to be joined by the following experts — ranging from filmmakers to policy experts:

Virginia Walden Ford:

One of America’s leading advocates for parent empowerment. As a student, a mother, an advocate, and a grandmother, Virginia has spent her life fighting to create new educational opportunities for children and families.

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, and the daughter of two public school educators, Virginia and her twin sister, Harrietta, were among the first 130 students chosen to desegregate Little Rock’s high schools in the mid-1960s. While she was raising her three children in Washington, D.C., Virginia was worried that her own son, William, was falling through the cracks of a system that wasn’t focused on the best interests of children. In 1998, she took action, forming a grassroots organization, D.C. Parents for School Choice. Along with a group of dedicated parents, Virginia went door-to-door, neighborhood- to-neighborhood, recruiting and training thousands of other parents to stand up for their children’s futures. In 2003, with the support of national education organizations and lawmakers, Virginia and her parent advocates succeeded in convincing Congress and President George W. Bush to enact the nation’s first-ever Opportunity Scholarship Program for low-income children, a program that set into motion a complete overhaul of Washington, D.C.’s education system. This program provides scholarships for low-income children to attend private schools while boosting federal funding for traditional public schools and public charter schools. Since the program’s inception, thousands of students have received Opportunity Scholarships, and the program boasts a 91 percent high school graduation rate. After the program’s passage, Virginia worked to encourage families to learn more about their school choice options, conducting information sessions across the city. Later, she played a key role in the Congressional re-authorization of the program. After winning several awards for her advocacy efforts, Virginia shared her advice and experiences in her book, Voices, Choices, and Second Chances. Her second book, School Choice: A Legacy to Keep was published in 2019.

R. J. Daniel Hanna:

Writer, director, and editor with dozens of awards and accolades for his screenplays. His script Shelter Animal made the Top 50 Scripts (out of 8,000) in the Academy of Motion Pictures Nicholl Fellowship.

He has directed commercials for Coca-Cola, Subway, Cole Haan, and more, but his true passion is independent cinema that ignites social change while delivering a powerful human story. His short film Shelter, starring Clea DuVall (Argo, Zodiac) and April Grace (Whiplash, Magnolia), played at the SAG Short Film Showcase and won the Audience Award from the NewFilmmakers LA festival. His most recent award-winning film, Everything, is based on a true story of a mother searching for a bone marrow donor for her daughter. It was featured in the Wall Street Journal and is spurring reform in the marrow donation industry. Working both in narrative and documentary form, Hanna also brings an editor’s eye to his sets. Films he has edited have won awards from the Emmy Foundation, the Director’s Guild of America, BAFTA, the USC Editing Faculty, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and film festivals. Hanna is repped by the Gersh Agency and Luber-Roklin Entertainment.

Jed Kaleko:

A Filmmaker in Residence (Production Design) in the College of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University.

Mr. Kaleko’s expertise includes a wide range of technical aspects of film production and design. He has served as a graduate committee member on more than 100 film productions at Florida State University.

William Mattox:

Director of the J. Stanley Marshall Center for Educational Options at The James Madison Institute. He works with a wide variety of researchers, policymakers, educators, and parents to promote innovative K-12 education reforms.

Mattox is committed to policies designed to make it possible for all K-12 students to obtain a high-quality education tailored to their unique needs, interests, aptitudes, and learning styles. Over the course of the last three decades, Mattox has written numerous articles on education-related issues for a number of leading publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and USA TODAY (where he is a long-time member of the Board of Contributors); presented expert testimony on education-related issues before legislative committees in Washington and in a number of state capitals; spoken at major education conferences around the country and at international meetings in Prague, Geneva, and Rome; served as an interim headmaster at a private school and led writing workshops at Duke, Vanderbilt, the University of Virginia, and other prominent universities; written supplemental curriculum guides on civic virtue, including one which won a national SPNovation Award from the State Policy Network (SPN); and directed a documentary film and a number of education-related video shorts, including a feature story which won a 2015 Spark Freedom national award.In recent years, Mattox has been honored by the Positive Coaching Alliance at Stanford University for his work promoting character development in youth sports and by the University of Georgia as the recipient of its Henry Grady Distinguished Alumni Award. 

Antonio Mendez:

Filmmaker in Residence (directing) in the College of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University.

Mendez is an accomplished producer and director whose work has been recognized by the Sundance Institute, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and the Mediterranean Film Fund. He is the co-founder of Aqui Y Alli Films. He earned his BA from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain and masters degrees in screenwriting and directing from Columbia University and producing from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Nick Reid :

Film producer and the Moving Picture Institute’s executive vice president. He is responsible for shaping and executing fundraising strategy; working on MPI Original productions, and also serves as a member of the executive team

 His executive producer credits include A PIECE OF CAKE, THE PERFECT ONE and MPI’s forthcoming Original feature documentary, 3 DIMENSIONS. He is a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and holds a certificate in management from Georgetown University. Prior to joining MPI, Nick was the executive vice president of a nonprofit organization where he oversaw development operations and student leadership development programs.

Dr. Stacey Rutledge:

Associate Professor in the Educational Leadership/Administration and Educational Policy and Evaluation programs in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

Her research focuses broadly on understanding how the work of administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, and students is nested within institutional and policy environments. She is currently serving as a Project Investigator for the National Center for Scaling Up Effective High Schools (NCSU), a center that has as its purpose identifying the programs, policies and practices that make some urban high schools particularly effective and working with these districts to scale these practices.  As part of the NCSU work, she is a recent grantee of a U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation Fund grant to continue to scale a joint academic and social emotional innovation called Personalization for Academic and Social Emotional Learning with NCSU partners, Broward County Public Schools. Her research has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, American Journal of Education, Leadership and Policy in Schools, and Teacher College Record.  She has been an author and co-editor on several volumes, most recently of The Infrastructure of Accountability: Data Use and the Transformation of American Education published by Harvard Education Press. She was a high school social studies teacher before getting her doctorate. At FSU, she teaches Qualitative Methods courses, Instructional Leadership, Policy to Practice, as well as Applications of Policy in Schools, among others.

Derrick Standifur

Founder of Life is Like a Rubik’s Cube, he is a K-12 education consultant and strategist, author, and personal development coach whose vision is “to teach one million people how to solve the twists and turns of life.”

Growing up in impoverished neighborhoods and raised by a single mother, Derrick has learned how to transform his pain into power. Derrick dropped out of Florida A&M University (FAMU) and flunked out of Georgia State University only to find himself waiting table.s After internalizing failure, he decided to bounce back from his trials and tribulations. In 2014, he graduated from FAMU with bachelor’s degree and then with his master’s degree in 2016. Notwithstanding his academic accomplishments, Derrick is most proud of the fact that he did not quit on himself. He began teaching. What was supposed to be a start to a beautiful career in public education instead was met with misfortune. He lost his mother to cancer a week before his 26th birthday, and then three years later, his dad, “Coach Hill,” from the same illness. Almost broken from grief, Derrick decided to use his life’s experiences to fuel his drive and commitment to serving mankind and womankind alike. Currently writing his dissertation to fulfill the requirements of

Dr. Samuel R. Staley

is director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy. Sam has extensive experience in public policy, starting his first public policy think tank in 1989.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, he was a leader and policy expert on education reform as Vice President for Research and then President of The Buckeye Institute. In addition to writing numerous policy reports and briefs on school choice and K-12 school finance, he provided expert testimony before the Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives as well as the US Congress. His research has appeared in leading academic journals, including Economics of Education Review and Constitutional Political Economy. More recently, his research interests in pop culture have led to the books Contemporary Film and Economics and The Beatles and Economics. His book on the Beatles won a gold medal, first place, in the Business Books category of the 2020 President’s Awards sponsored by the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. The author of more than 100 film reviews, Sam is a film critic for the Independent Institute in Oakland, California.

CLICK HERE to register for the symposium or receive more information on format, scope, and intention.

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